Downsized Hot Rods

While it's not a trend or likely to be one anytime soon, the notion of putting a performance drivetrain into something vintage that's small and more than likely foreign isn't new. No, there have been Austin Bantam-bodied fuel altereds in drag racing competition, Sunbeam Tigers with Ford V-8s that were the forerunners to the Shelby Cobras, and more recently Triumph roadsters with Honda VTEC engines. So it wasn't all that strange when I saw a for-sale ad on a hot rod website for a Ford Squire wagon, and the thought of one that I saw at the Goodguys event in Charlotte a few years ago came to mind.

Unfortunately, that latter Ford Squire with a blown engine and twin carburetors wasn't the one being offered for sale. No, this one was basically just a shell, most of the trim and a box full of original parts for the four-cylinder engine. The price was right; the owner was asking $750 if you drove down to Atlanta and picked it up. I started thinking about the possibilities, and whether or not I could convince my friend Larry Burchett, who owns B-Rod or Custom in Knoxville, to put a custom Art Morrison chassis under it.

You go through all the drivetrain combinations, but it only seems right to use a Ford in a Ford, right? I considered getting in touch with a friend at SEMI in Johnson City for a complete crate motor to bypass the need to assemble it myself, especially since I don't have all the tools to do so nor a stout engine stand on which to build it. A manual transmission from Keisler Engineering in Rockford, and I'd be half way to getting it running.

Then that other obstacle started to rear its ugly head: the financial considerations. You can build some incredible cars up to the point where you need to start tapping your bank account, and that's also where you run into resistance if you're not single and able to do whatever you please. My conscience reminded me there were taxes to be paid, a daily driver in need of maintenance, and chicks that required their coop to be completed.

It's a good thing Corky Coker recently held an open house at Coker Tire and Honest Charley Speed Shop in Chattanooga. It gave me an opportunity to look at other cool cars I can't have, and dream about the way I'd build it if any of them were mine.

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